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Clearest case of religious persecution

June 14, 2011

FMT LETTER: From Liva Sreedharan, via e-mail

Iran has systematically targeted the Baha’is for persecution since the inception of the Baha’i religion and abuses have been ongoing since 1844 till now. Experts on religious and racial cleansing have deemed the case in Iran to be one that foreshadows greater mass persecutions.

Genocide experts have identified certain patterns similar to those that occurred just before the Holocaust and these include the systematic identifying and monitoring of the minority group; in this case, the Baha’is, the vilifying of Baha’is in the media and other sources in order to gain support from the public to abuse and violate the Baha’i minority in Iran; the systematic deprivation of the basic rights of the vulnerable group and finally, the preparation for extermination of the Baha’i population.

Case in point: The systematic identifying and monitoring of the minority group – The armed forces in Iran have been given the command by their Supreme Leader to acquire a comprehensive and complete report  of all the activities of the Baha’is including political, economic, social and cultural for the purpose of identifying all the individuals in this religion.

Case in point: Vilifying of Baha’is in Iran’s media – The Iranian public remain virtually ignorant of Baha’i beliefs and are taught to hate and fear them due to the lack of exposure of the true nature of the Baha’i Faith stemming from the control of the Iranian government over the media; thus resulting in widespread prejudice and hatred towards the Baha’i community whose fundamental teachings include the promotion of peace and unity on earth.

Case in point: Systematic deprivation of the rights of the vulnerable group –  23 out of the 30 articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have been violated by the Iranian government in its treatment meted out towards the Baha’is in Iran. The Bahá’ís are not recognised as an official religion and so do not share the same legal protections as Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians. They cannot work in government positions and do not have the same inheritance laws. Bahá’í cemeteries are desecrated, homes of Bahá’í families are often destroyed, entire villages have been torched, business licenses of Baha’is are not renewed and existing ones confiscated.

Case in point: Preparation for extermination –  As of 2010, more than 300 Bahá’í have been executed by the government, usually on trumped up charges of “spying for Israel,” or “desecrating Islam” and thousands have been tortured and imprisoned. This is unacceptable. It is a situation that must be addressed. The Bahá’ís are not “others” in Iran: they have been part of Iranian society for more than a century. They have contributed to the progress and development of the country, from its first schools for girls, to the Bahá’í architect of the famous Azadi monument, Husayn Amanat. There are certain pivotal measures that can be taken in order to prevent the persecutions of Baha’is in Iran from escalating into a full blown genocide and these include support from national and international groups to pressure the Iranian government into recognising the Baha’i community as one of the official religious minorities in Iran and to ensure the systematic restoration of the rights of the Iranian Baha’is. The author has a Masters in Criminology with Forensic Psychology and performed her research on genocide and religious and cultural cleansing.


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